Mod lies EXPOSED #fakencounter-Ishrat Jahan case: Gujarat HC satisfied with CBI probe #goodnews


PTI

Gujarat High Court on Friday expressed satisfaction about the progress made by CBI in the investigation of Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case, and ordered it to submit the next progress report by May 9.

CBI, ordered by the HC to take over the probe in December 2011, on Thursday submitted a progress report in a sealed cover.

On Friday, the division bench of Justices Jayant Patel and Abhilasha Kumari said the pace and direction of the probe were satisfactory. “It looks like in past two months CBI has made a substantial progress,” the judges said.

At the last hearing in January, when CBI submitted its first report, the court wasn’t much happy and decided to monitor the probe.

Subsequently, CBI arrested four Gujarat police officers: IPS officer Girish Singhal, deputy superintendent of police Tarun Barot, inspector Bharat Patel and retired deputy superintendent of police J.G. Parmar.

Ishrat Jahan, who hailed from Mumbra near Mumbai, Javed Shaikh alias Pranesh Pillai, Zeeshan Johar and Amjadali Rana were killed by the Gujarat police in an encounter on June 15, 2004 on the outskirts of Ahmedabad.

During the hearing, the state government’s lawyer raised the issue of sending back Gujarat-cadre IPS officer Satish Verma, who had been asked by the HC to join the CBI probe despite the state government’s objection.

Mr. Verma was a part of the Special Investigation Team constituted by the HC in this case; he was the first to say in his report that Ishrat and others were killed in a fake encounter.

“We need him urgently as he is one of the senior and experienced officer of the state police,” Government Pleader Prakash Jani said. Mr. Verma could be sent back to state service as CBI had now made a substantial progress in probe, he said.

“As per this court’s order dated January 11, 2013, Mr. Verma’s services for this case were allowed only for three months,” he said.

But the bench, while rejecting CBI’s request for continuing Mr. Verma’s deputation for four months, said he can continue to assist CBI till April-end, and by then CBI should get done whatever it wanted him to do for the probe.

“From May 1, 2013 Satish Verma should return to the state government,” the HC said, fixing the next hearing on May 10.

 

#Chhattisgarh- Joint Mission to Enquire into Industrial Accident at the Holcim


Joint Mission to Enquire into Industrial Accident at the Holcim – Ambuja Plant. Baloda Bazar District, Chhattisgarh.

15 – 16 February 2013

Mission Members

Pragatisheel Cement Shramik Sangh

Ms. Sudha Bharadwaj

Mr. Kalyan Patel

Mr. Mahesh Kumar

Ms. Sahana Manjesh, National Law School, Bangalore (Intern)

Chhattisgarh Cement and Khadan Employees Union (INTUC)

Mr. Suresh Bagre

National Trade Union Initiative – National Federation

Mr. Ashim Roy

Independent Experts

Mr. Dunu Roy, Hazards Centre.

Ms. Gayatri Singh, Lawyer, Mumbai High Court.

Building and Wood Workers International

Dr. Rajeev Sharma

Ms. Prerna Prasad

Purpose of the Mission

holcim

On 31st January 2013, five workers died in an accident that took place at the Holcim Ambuja plant at district Baloda Bazar, Chhattisgarh where an overloaded and dilapidated fly ash hopper crashed through five floors and five workmen were killed. These five workers included two permanent workers, one contract worker and two apprentices. The accident indicated gross negligence in maintenance of buildings and equipment, unavailability of trained personnel and mechanisms for rescue operations combined with the reported mistreatment by the plant personnel especially two security officers meted to the villagers who came to enquire about the accident and their family members who were working at the plant. The State Government announced compensation of INR 1 million to each family – however it has been shown that the Holcim led cement plants in Chhattisgarh have been violating local laws and disrespecting workers rights especially the rampant use of contract labour in the cement plants.

With this background, mission visit was undertaken to Chhattisgarh from 15 – 16 February 2013 to meet with the local administration officials, labour department, health and safety inspector, chief inspectorate of factories, workers, union members, victims family workers and the plant management to gather information about the accident and its causes, to ensure that such an accident does not happen in future by putting necessary safeguards in place, and also address key issues faced by the workers at these plants especially the insecurity of employment in case of contract workers.

DAY I – 15 February 2013

A. Meeting with Senior Government Officials

A.1. District Collector, Mr. Rajesh Sukumar Toppo and Joint Collector, Mr. Onkar Yadu, Baloda Bazar District

The mission members met with the district collector and joint collector and the interaction covered various aspects of the accident and related matters.

  • The Collector gave a brief background of the plant before coming to the accident. This plant earlier belonged to the Modi group and was established in year 1984 – 1985. The loss making unit was restructured under the management of the Ambuja group. There are two units in the plant – Line 1 has been there since 1984 – 85 when the ownership was under Modi Group and Line 2 has come up recently when Holcim took over the ownership of the plant.
  • The accident took place in line 1 of the Holcim – Ambuja plant around 10.40 AM on 31 January 2013. The collector’s office was informed within 10 minutes of the accident and the first team reached the plant at 11:45. The first body was discovered at 12:30 PM and it took about 56 hours to complete the entire rescue operations and take out five bodies. As per their information,on 1st floor there were two workers and on ground floor there were three workers including contract worker and the two apprentices.

  • The Collector mentioned that the plant was not equipped to deal with such scale of accidents – relief and rescue operations and did not have the capacity to deal with such level of disasters. In fact, the management looked up to the district administration for carrying out rescue operations. The rescue personnel were called from the nearby cement plant, Ultratech and cranes were brought from Lafarge.
  • The Collector expressed considerable discontent at the way plant security officers handled the villagers and mistreated them, further the management was not able to give a statement or disseminate information from inside the plant to the outside – their public relations department was not adept for handling this public interface. This also created resentment among the villagers who wanted to know about their family members.
  • He was surprised to note that CCTV was available only at the production site and not at the personnel department – he said that had the CCTVs were there, live feed could have been provided from inside the plant which would have pacified the crowd and media gathered outside the plant.
  • The fly ash hopper collapsed possibly due to structural failure which could have been inherent at the commissioning stage itself. It was a steel structure and there was a lack of space to work around.  Five workers who died in the accident included three workers from outside the state – 2 from Uttar Pradesh and 1 from Madhya Pradesh, the remaining two were from local villages.
  • An engineer by profession, the Collector shared that the cause of the accident could be attributed to poor design at the commissioning stage. In 2005, the hopper was retrofitted to the existing structure i.e. it was an old structure with an added new design. The reason being cited as overloading may not be the exact cause for this accident to happen. The fact that the accident could have been prevented or at least rescue operations could have been hastened makes the accountability lie on the side of the management. The delegation also asked about accountability with the enforcement machinery – the Collector mentioned that they are looking into it especially the work of the factories inspectorate.
  • The Mumbai based design company has been asked to justify that their design was not at fault. Another question asked pertained to facilities under the  Factories Act –  we were informed  that there is one hospital in the residential area.
  • In May 2012, site appraisal was done in cement plants and selected plants (boiler section of associated power plants, there have been cases of boiler explosion there certificates were not valid) were shut down for one month at Ambuja. However, efforts were made to check and inspect largely the movable parts and machineries and not the static structures – hence it has been a major learning for the administration as well. Further, he mentioned that the company has in-house safety committees and it is necessary that these committees also have worker and union representatives.
  • The Collector mentioned that post accident, his office had convened a meeting of all cement plants in the district on 6th February 2013 and issued a list of recommendations and has stipulated three months period for initiating action on these recommendations i.e. 31st May 2013.
  • He further informed that the period of magisterial enquiry has been extended to 31st March 2013 – an open ended enquiry that is doing evidence collection – and representations are welcome from different stakeholders on the accident and related issues. The collector mentioned that they are enquiring from workers whether there was vibration which was not incidental.
  • On discussions pertaining to contract labour raised in the meeting – when figures and statistics were provided by the delegation, issues and data were put forth. The Collector highlighted that the management employs migrant workers and not from the local villages – about 90% of contract workers are from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and 10% are from local villages.Unions shall have more clout when workers are from the local area(s).
  • The company also did not have proper system of accounting for number of workers working in the units. On the issue of the increasing proportion of contract workers and ascertaining the number of workers at the plant, the Collector mentioned that it is being proposed that the Identity cards presently issued to the workers by the contractor(s) shall also be signed by local labour officers so as to keep a parallel record of workers and avoid mismatch for coverage under the Provident Fund and ESI. The issue of unregistered contractors at the plant was also highlighted.
  • He also added that directions shall be issued to the management as to which areas the apprentices can work in, as the accident affected two apprentices working in the cement mill. Taking in apprentices is part of the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activity, but the location of their work needs to be ascertained.
  • The Collector also added that the administration shall also focus on improving the local hospitals in terms of capacity to take in critically injured persons and provide emergency relief to them.

Recommendations made by the Collector after meeting between the Government officials and Cement plants’ representatives on 06.02.2013. The key recommendations are as follows:

1. Every three years, all the cement plants shall get their plants fully inspected – this inspection can be done through any IIT in India. If the cement company gets the inspection done through any international or national agency, an IIT shall have to engaged to certify the outcomes of the inspection and copies of the inspection report shall also be submitted to district administration and other concerned Government departments.

2. Every cement plant to have one disaster management committee / public safety committee which should have plant head, all unit heads along with office bearers of the different trade unions active in the plant. Regular monthly meetings shall be organised and analysis of the OHS situation along with any minor or major accidents needs to be undertaken by this committee. Monthly meetings report shall be submitted to the concerned police officials as well.

3. Relief and Rescue Group for handling accidents and similar situations to be constituted in every cement plant. Regular training, safety tools and necessary rescue equipments need to be provided to these groups.

4. CCTV camera to be installed in all cement plants where workers enter and exit in production/ other units. Every cement plant needs to have a list of workers to ascertain how many workers are working at a given time in the different wings of the plant.

5. Apprentices and trainees cannot be made to work at dangerous units/ sites and management shall have the responsibility to ensure the same.

6. Every cement plant to get at least two of their senior officials trained in handling industrial accidents from National Institute of Disaster Management.

A.2. Assistant Labour Commissioner (Central), Mr. D. K. Singh

The Regional Labour Commissioner (RLC) informed the delegation that because of his engagement elsewhere he has deputed Assistant Labour Commissioner (ALC), in whose jurisdiction Ambuja plant falls, to provide relevant details.

  • About the accident, the ALC shared that enquiry by the factory inspectorate is ongoing and the report is awaited.
  • The ALC mentioned that contract labour and workmen’s compensation came under the purview of Central government and the provisions under Factories Act came under the jurisdiction of the State government.
  • About the burning issues facing the cement industry i.e. contract labour – he provided details on the number of regular workers (431), contract workers (2264) and the number of contractors (44) at the Ambuja cement plant.
  •  There has been a discussion that the company management should also endorse and certify the ID cards for each of the contract workers working at the plant.
  • On the issue of contract workers being denied their benefits, the ALC promised to look into them if the cases were brought to him.
  • The ALC seemed to be not very well informed about the case and legal aspects pertaining to contract workers. Commenting on the improvement in the Contract Labour Act, he proposedselected reforms to be made viz. a) establish a clear distinction between core and peripheral activities, b) include equal payment for same and similar work done in the statute itself and c)provisions for reinstating the contract workers.

A.3. Health & Safety Inspector and Chief Inspectorate of Factories

Meeting was conducted with the Deputy Director, Industrial Health and Safety (who also holds the charge of the Deputy Chief Inspector of Factories) at the State Capital, Raipur. This meeting was attended by Bro. Dunu Roy and Bro. Ashim Roy. Their observations from the meeting capturing the health and safety issues at the Holcim-Ambuja plant are annexed (please refer to Annexure-1: Health and Safety).

B. Meeting at the Plant

The delegation visited the plant where this accident happened. The delegation was received by security officers, Mr. Y.P. Singh and Mr. Nandlal Choubey and they informed that a meeting is going on hence it would not be possible to meet anyone from the plant management. Further, it was mentioned that the Ambuja has already issued an official statement clarifying their position. And it was told to try for meeting on the next day i.e. 16 February 2013.

DAY II – 16 February 2013

Day II started with meeting the union officials from PCSS and INTUC office bearers and workers including Bro. Suresh Bagre (INTUC), Bro. Mahesh Kumar and Bro. Kalyan Patel from the PCSS.

Attempt was also made to meet the management on the second day however the delegation was told that the concerned management officials including the plant head Mr. B.C. Pandey and the HR person, Mr. Tiwari were not available as they had a meeting to attend at Mumbai and this was despite the assurance for a visit given by the Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM), Mr. Motwani and the management never called back.

C. Meeting with the Union Representatives

To gather more details about the accident and also the structure and design plus hopper placement in the area where this accident took place, interactions were held with selected workers from concerned departments.

The team perused various documents that had been submitted by the representatives of various unions to the Collector and Sub Divisional Magistrate in respect of the industrial accident.

Some of the salient issues raised by the representatives of the INTUC and the PCSS were the following:-

a)  That the structure supporting the fly ash hoppers was weak and was continually subjected to vigorous vibration when the fly ash was conveyed by pipe under pressure. In fact we were informed that the high powered Engineering Support Group of the company had pointed out this structural weakness about 2 years ago and no action had been taken subsequently.

b) That the Safety Committee was ineffective and owing to the Management nominating only the representatives of its favourite union headed by Shri Rajulal Shrestha, the serious concerns of the workmen could never get properly taken up.

c) That on the fateful day Shri Suresh Chandra Shukla, who was on the post of Shift Electrician, but whose B Form was filled up as a mines worker, had been asked to carry out maintenance of the motor of the cement mill, which was not a part of his duty. The apprentices were allocated to him as helpers in violation of the provisions of the Apprentices Act.

d) That the Management behaved in a most callous manner with the family and co-workers of the victim workers, refusing them information, locking them out of the gates and even using force and intimidation against them through their Security personnel. Some persons were even being asked to falsely testify that one worker had been taken for treatment to Raipur, whereas the reality is that all the workers died more or less immediately.

e) The Management failed to deal with the accident scientifically and the act of using water to douse the hot fly ash- cement mix was a serious mistake since it caused the mixture to set rendering it even more difficult to extricate the trapped workers.

It was also understood that the FIR was initially registered under section 287 and 337 of the Indian Penal Code (with very minor l punishment and as a bailable offence). In this manner offence was lodged against three officers, however they were granted bail on their personal bond. Additionally, the delegation was informed that now the case has been registered under 304 A and copy of the report is being sought because 304 II should have been applied in this case.

D. Meeting with the Deceased Workers Families

Visit was also undertaken to the families of the deceased workers in village Arjuni – Mr. Roshan Lal Verma and Mr. Poshan Lal Verma who worked as apprentices at the plant.

Roshan Lal Verma is survived by wife and 15 months old child. Brother of the deceased worker, Mr. Jaswant mentioned about the highhandedness of the security officials who instead of showing compassion to the families of the deceased and other villagers used unwarranted force that further aggravated the situation and the emotions. Also, there was no information from the company and they got to know about Roshan’s death through media. The other details that were given were about the payment, as an apprentice they were paid a monthly stipend of around 1,950 INR and there was no particular work/ area assigned to them. The family additionally mentioned that they have been promised that the 15 months old child shall be provided free education up till college level.

At Poshan Lal Verma’s home, we met with his mother, youngest brother and grandmother. The family was in a state of shock and did not say much about the accident. The family mentioned that it was the last day of Poshan’s one-year apprenticeship and he should be treated as a qualified worker and be given additional compensation by the company as per the Workmen Compensation Act.

Both families urged that necessary urgent steps should be taken that such an accident does not happen in future.

—————————————————————————————————————————

Annexure – I

Health and Safety at the HOLCIM cement factory (Dunu Roy)

The Deputy Director, Industrial Health and Safety, Raipur (who is also the Deputy Chief Inspector of Factories), showed us the preliminary report submitted by one of his Inspectors that gave the dimensions and location of the hopper that collapsed, and workers at the factory shared their observations about the accident and the structure. Since we were not provided an opportunity by the management to inspect the site, the following represents the best possible interpretation of the available data about what might have caused the accident.

The cement mill in question belonged to the Modi enterprise in 1985 when the raw material feed for manufacturing Ordinary Portland Cement (OPC) consisted of 95% clinker and 5% gypsum. It should be noted that clinker is produced by sintering limestone at high temperatures with clay (which may already be present in the limestone) in a kiln. This is then ground in a ball mill with gypsum which both facilitates the grinding as well as prevents the flash setting of the cement.

In 1990, the mill changed its feed mix to 65% clinker mixed with 30% slag and 5% gypsum for the manufacture of Portland Slag Cement (PSC). Slag is a by-product of the process of smelting iron and was earlier considered to be a waste, until cement manufacturers found it could be used to supplant limestone and, therefore, cut down on the cost of production as well as could be used to produce concrete that was more resistant to chemical attack.

In 1995 the cement factory was bought over by Ambuja and in 2005-6 by HOLCIM. It was then that there was yet another change in the manufacturing process and the feed was changed, in accordance with environmental stipulations, to make use of yet another waste material from the thermal power industry, fly-ash, which now supplanted the 30% slag to make Pozzolona Portland Cement (PPC). This also requires very fine grinding of the cement.

Consequently, a second Line and ball mill were constructed on the ground floor of the existing factory. Above the flat roof of this floor, a large steel frame structure was constructed on the pillars of the old structure to accommodate three hoppers of 160mT, 90mT, and 40mT capacity that would supply fly-ash to the ball mills, along with other ancillary equipment. These three hoppers were situated one above the other and the fly-ash was lifted from the silo at the ground level to the highest hopper through a pipe that carried fly-ash fluidised by a blast of air. The fly-ash was then released to the lower hoppers and, eventually, the ball mill, through gravity feed by operating a series of gate valves.

It was the highest (and largest) hopper that collapsed during the accident – bringing down with it the smallest one) and, therefore, our attention is focussed on it. This had a capacity of 160mT, was 6000mm in diameter and 5491mm high in its cylindrical portion, with a further conical portion at the bottom which was 3300mm high and the cone had a slope of 8º. This gives a volume of roughly 120m3 and with a bulk density that varies between 1100-1500kg/m3 (depending upon compaction), the total amount of fly-ash that the hopper could contain would range from 120 to 180mT. According to the workers as well as the Dy. Dir. (IH&S), the hopper had two sensors that would automatically start and stop the pneumatic feed at 125mT and 145mT.

This largest hopper was mounted in the superstructure at a height of 35.9m and what was apparent both from the report of the Inspector as well as the account of the workers, was that it was not supported on pillars with strong foundations in the ground at the bottom, as such hoppers usually are (see Figure 1) with 4, 6, or multiple pillars depending upon the load to be carried. Instead it had a collar of 6800mm outer diameter at 2000mm from the top and this collar was 1000mm broad and attached to the beams of the superstructure in an unspecified manner and mounted on 3 load cells. This gives a very unusual mounting indeed and can only be surmised, from the descriptions given, as being something like in Figure 2.

A suspended hopper, as shown in Figure 2, is not supported from the ground by pillars that are under compression (as In Figure 1) but on cantilever beams that are under shear or torque. Hence, it is inherently weak in its support function. Since the beams are also not attached to columns on both sides because of the triangular support on load cells, they are under greater stress. Also, it was reported by workers that none of the joints were riveted or bolted for additional strength, but only welded; hence, the support structure is further weakened.

It also appears that the load sensors, which are normally used to detect deformities in load bearing structures, were, in this case, being used to measure the total load in the hopper, so could not be relied on to detect any early signs of imbalance or failure. In addition, the thick cover of fly-ash dust on the joints did not permit visual observation of cracks. Workers also reported that the pneumatic feed into the hopper was a source of considerable vibration. Given the pressure drop from the bottom of the silo to the top of the hopper, there was also the chance of choking of the feed pipe that would add to the vibration of the structure. (The two workers who were at the top were reportedly trying to unclog the pipe by hammering on it at the time of the collapse.) All these would have combined to prevent early risk assessments from being made.

When the Dy. Chief Inspector was queried about the regular inspection of the factory he said that his department had 10 Inspectors currently who were required to do 800 inspections per year for the 4223 factories that were registered in his area. (A request for 11 more Inspectors has been forwarded to the Public Service Commission for consideration.) Hence, the best the Inspectors could do was a walk-through visit and depend on the data provided by the managers. Clearly, therefore, the regulatory mechanism is barely functional in the district.

On the other hand, the factory is certified under ISO 9001, ISO 14001, and OHSAS 18001, and these independent certification authorities should presumably have been able to check and ensure the quality of the plant from end to end. ISO 9001, for instance, requires that the personnel performing work affecting product quality should be competent on the basis of appropriate education, training, skills and experience. The company is supposed to ensure that its personnel are aware of the relevance and importance of their activities and how they contribute to the achievement of the quality objectives. The company is further mandated to determine, provide and maintain buildings, workspace and associated utilities, and process equipment, while managing the work environment needed to achieve conformity to product requirements. However, much of the certification is based on “self-assessment” by the management.

ISO 14001 focuses more on environmental issues, but the certification requires assessment of the competence, training, and awareness of personnel, as well as emergency preparedness and response plans. A process must actually exist for identifying the potential emergencies, in addition to planning and mitigating them. The company is also required to review the emergency procedures and make improvements as necessary, as well as engage in periodic testing of emergency procedures.

Most critical are the provisions contained in OHSAS 18001, wherein the company is required to devise an OH&S policy; plan for hazard identification, risk assessment and determination of controls; plan for emergencies and responses; devise procedures for performance measuring, monitoring and improvement; provide and ensure the appropriate use of safety equipment; and train in order to introduce an OH&S culture and establish the importance of the organisation’s safety statement, policies and objectives. Implicit in this is that a lead senior manager should be in charge of the OH&S system and, at the same time, employees should do the jobs that are suited to their competencies. The company must also periodically and regularly conduct internal audits to identify non-conformities and address them.

However, from all accounts, much of the operation was being conducted by contract workers, helpers, and trainees. Safety too was being supervised by the security officers rather than by properly trained senior managers. And the company had to apparently wait for assistance to be provided by other factories in the neighbourhood before it could deal with the emergency, with the last body being taken out from the debris after 52 hours.

In conclusion, it may be inferred, on the basis of available information, that not only was the failure implicit in the design of the structure, based on cost-cutting measures, but that there was an equal failure of the inspection, certification, and regulatory mechanisms that are supposed to cumulatively and collectively ensure safety at the work site.

Annexure-2

Legal position in the issues arising out of the accident in the Holcim-Ambuja Plant (Sahana Manjesh)

Apprentices

  • As per Section.16 of the Apprentices Act, the Employees’ Compensation will apply to apprentices covered under it in case of an accident. Section2(aa) of the Apprentices Act defines an apprentice as “person who is undergoing apprenticeship training in pursuance of a contract of apprenticeship”.
  • However, for all apprentices not covered under the Apprentices Act, the ESI Act (as amended in 2010) will apply under Section.2(9)(iii) of the ESI Act “…or any person engaged as an apprentice, not being an apprentice engaged under the Apprentices Act of 1961 and includes such person engaged as apprentice whose training period is extended to any length of time…” This therefore also includes apprentices under Standing Orders (who were excluded prior to the 2010 amendment).
  • In Premier Ploytronics v. Assistant Regional Director it was held that whether a person is an apprentice or employee depended not on the nomenclature but on the nature of work done. The Employees Insurance Court will have to come to this conclusion on the basis of evidence.
  • In case of a dispute, apprentices are also covered under the ID Act. “But if an apprentice does “any manual, unskilled, skilled, technical, operational, clerical or supervisory work for hire or reward”, he will be a workman to whom I.D. Act will apply and, therefore, will not be governed by the Apprentices Act, even if he was enrolled as an apprentice trainee. It is not the label a person has, but the type of work which he does, which is relevant criteria for determining as to whether he is or is not a workman”  as was held in LIC of India v. D.J. Bahadur. “The line of demarcation between the apprentice and the workman is very clear. If and when a question as to whether an apprentice is really an apprentice or is a workman wearing the mask of an apprentice, is raised, the appropriate authority/ Labour Court will have to apply mind to the nature of his work. The veil has to be lifted in order to find out the reality. But such a question cannot be decided merely on the basis of apprenticeship contract or on the basis of the label, which a person wears”, as held in Ram Dular Paswan v. P.O. Labour Court.
  • Therefore, depending on the nature of apprenticeship the Employees’ Compensation Act or the ESI Act will apply to those among the deceased five who were apprentices. But they are definitely covered.

Contract workers

  • Employees of the Ambuja Cement Plant in Balodabazar are covered under the ESI Act, their official websites says so.
  • Section2(9)(ii) r/w s.2(13) of the ESI Act makes it applicable to contract workers.
  • The ESI Act applies to the exclusion of all others under Section.53 of the Act. Therefore, the families of the contract workers among the five deceased will benefit under this alone.
  • It is pertinent however that the Cement Wage Board Agreement which is applicable to Ambuja Cement, has specified that no contract labour shall be employed in the cement production process except for the processes of loading-unloading and packing wherein the wages paid should be the same as for the regular workers. Permanent/ regular workers in the cement industry are paid as per the Cement Wage Board which is inclusive of various allowances including heat and dust allowances.

Ex-gratia payment

State v. Niyabji – there was an ex-gratia payment made under a government scheme. This was held to be in addition to the payment under the Employee Compensation Act/ESI Act. Thus the payment made/ announced by the Chief Minister was through his relief funds/other funds and is therefore in addition to legal entitlements.

Relevant Provisions of the Factories Act.

  • Section 37. Explosive or inflammable dust, gas, etc. –

Where in any factory any manufacturing process produces dust, gas, fume or vapour of such character and to such extent as to be likely to explode on ignition, all practicable measures shall be taken to prevent any such explosion by-

(a) effective enclosure of the plant or machinery used in the process;

(b) removal or prevention of the accumulation of such dust, gas, fume or vapour;

(c) exclusion or effective enclosure of all possible sources of ignition.

(2) Where in any factory the plant or machinery used in a process such as is referred to in sub-section (1), is not so constructed as to withstand the probable pressure which such an explosion as aforesaid would produce, all practicable measures shall be taken to restrict the spread and effects of the explosion by the provision in the plant or machinery of chokes, baffles, vents or other effective appliances.

  • Section 38. Precautions in case of fire. –

(1) In every factory, all practicable measures shall be taken to prevent outbreak of fire and its spread, both internally and externally, and to provide and maintain-

(a) safe means of escape for all persons in the event of a fire, and

(b) the necessary equipment and facilities for extinguishing fire.

(2) Effective measures shall be taken to ensure that in every factory all the workers are familiar with the means of escape in case of fire and have been adequately trained in the routine to be following in such cases.

(3) The State Government may make rules, in respect of any factory or class or description of factories, requiring the measures to be adopted to give effect to the provisions of sub-sections (1) and (2).

(4) Notwithstanding anything contained in clause (a) of sub-section (1) or sub-section (2), if the Chief Inspector, having regard to the nature of the work carried on in any factory, the construction of such factory, special risk to life or safety, or any other circumstances, is of the opinion that the measures provided in the factory, whether as prescribed or not, for the purposes of clause (a) of sub-section (1) or sub-section (2), are inadequate, he may, by order in writing, require that such additional measures as he may consider reasonable and necessary, be provided in the factory before such date as is specified in the order.

  • Section 40. Safety of buildings and machinery. –

(1) If it appears to the Inspector that any building or part of a building or any part of the ways, machinery or plant in a factory is in such a condition that it is dangerous to human life or safety, he may serve on the occupier or manager or both of the factory an order in writing specifying the measures, which in his opinion should be adopted and requiring them to be carried out before a specified date.

(2) If it appears to the Inspector that the use of any building or part of a building or any part of the ways, machinery or plant in a factory involves imminent danger to human life or safety he may serve on the occupier or manager or both of the factory an order in writing prohibiting its use until it has been properly repaired or altered.

Section 40A. Maintenance of buildings. –

If it appears to the Inspector that any building or part of a building in a factory is in such a state of disrepair as is likely to lead to conditions detrimental to the health and welfare of the workers, he may serve on the occupier or manager or both of the factory an order in writing specifying the measures which in his opinion should be taken and requiring the same to be carried out before such date as is specified in the order.

  • Section 88. Notice of certain accident.-

(1) Where in any factory an accident occurs which causes death, or which causes any bodily injury by reason of which the person injured is prevented from working for a period of forty-eight hours or more immediately following the accident, or which is of such nature as may be prescribed in this behalf, the manager of the factory shall send notice thereof to such authorities, in such form and within such time, as may be prescribed.

(2) Where a notice given under sub-section (1) relates to an accident causing death, the authority to whom the notice is sent shall make an inquiry into the occurrence within one month of the receipt of the notice or if there is no such authority, the Chief Inspector cause the Inspector to make an inquiry within the said period.

(3) The State Government may make rules for regulating the procedure inquires under this section.

  • Section 90. Power to direct inquiry into cases of accident or disease.-

(1) The State Government may, if it considers it expedient so to do, appoint a competent person to inquire into the causes of any accident occurring in a factory or into any case where a disease specified in the Third Schedule has been, or is suspected to have been, contacted in a factory, and may also appoint one or more persons possessing legal or special knowledge to act as assessors in such inquiry.

(2) The person appointed to hold an inquiry under this section shall have all the powers of a Civil Court under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (V of 1908), for the purposes of enforcing the attendance of witnesses and compelling the production of documents and material objects and may also, so far as may be necessary for the purposes of the inquiry, exercise any of the powers of an Inspector under this Act; and every person required by the person making the inquiry to furnish any information, shall be deemed to be legally bound so to do within the meaning of section 176 of the Indian Penal Code (XLV of 1960).

(3) The person holding an inquiry under this section shall make a report to the State Government stating the cause of the accident, or as the case may be, disease, and any attendant circumstances, and adding any observations which he or any of the assessors may think fit to make.

(4) The State Government may, if it thinks fit, cause to be published any report made under this section or any extracts there from.

(5) The State Government may make rules for regulating the procedure of inquires under this section.

  • Section 92. General penalty for offences.-

Save as is otherwise expressly provided in this Act and subject to the provisions of section 93, if in, or in respect of, any factory there is any contravention of the provisions of this Act or of any rules made thereunder or of any order in writing given thereunder, the occupier or manager of the factory shall each be guilty of an offence and punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years or with fine which may extend to one lakh rupees or with both, and if the contravention is continued after conviction, with as further fine which may extend to one thousand rupees for each day on which the contravention is so continued.

Provided that where contravention of any of the provisions of Chapter IV or any rule made thereunder or under section 87 has resulted in an accident causing death or serious bodily injury, the fine shall not be less than twenty-five thousand rupees in the case of an accident causing death, and five thousand rupees in the case of an accident causing serious bodily injury.

Explanation. – in this section and in section 94 “serious bodily injury” means an injury which involves, or in all probability will involve, the permanent loss of the use of, or permanent injury to, any limb or the permanent loss of, or injury to sight or hearing, or the fracture of any bone, but shall not include, the fracture of bone or joint (not being fracture of more than one bone or joint) of and phalanges of the hand or foot.

 

#Chhattisgarh – 1067 inmates branded as ‘ ALLEGED MAOISTS”, languish in prisons #RTI


Unite Under Maoism!

Jostling for justice

Hundreds of undertrials languish in overcrowded south Chhattisgarh prisons even as their trial proceeds sluggishly, says an RTI reply

With most information regarding prisons closely guarded in the country, in conflict zones — some north-eastern States, Kashmir or Chhattisgarh — it is even more so. The only information about prisons that percolates to public space is about how inmates are becoming master painters, singers or dance drama designers. While those endeavours are to be lauded, the standard of life in smaller prisons, which are not located in the national capital or megacities but in districts and sub-divisions, rarely gets attention.

In this scenario, the role of prison reforms committees becomes important in highlighting issues of prisons in smaller states and districts, but more often than not, their recommendations never see light of day. For example, the All India Committee on Prison Reform (1980-83) produced one comprehensive study cum recommendation on how to improve quality of life in Indian prisons. Two main focuses of the report were to address overcrowding and speedy trial. However, nothing happened. Several other committees were also formed at the regional level in the last 30 years by various state governments to initiate prison reforms and speedy trial albeit without any substantial result. The relatively new State of Chhattisgarh has never instituted any formal study of its prisons. It is also yet to implement recommendations of the Prison Reform Committee.

A 2009 study by National Human Rights Commission shows that Chhattisgarh prisons accommodate three times more than their capacity. However, a prison wise break up of inmates is not available.

Recently, an RTI filed by activist Swami Agnivesh has revealed that while there is space for 844 inmates, the three prisons of Kanker, Jagdalpur and Dantewada (all in south Chhattisgarh) cumulatively accommodate 1067 inmates who are undertrials and are referred to as “alleged Maoists” or “Maoist supporters”, according to the RTI reply. “We only have figures of those arrested as alleged Maoists. If the sum total of general undertrials and the convicts are added to this category, then the prisons are three times more crowded,” Swami Agnivesh told The Hindu.

The number of “alleged Maoists” or “Maoist supporters” in Kanker prison is 144 whereas it has space only for 65. Similarly, while Dantewada prison can accommodate 150, it actually has 377 undertrials as inmates. Jagdalpur prison has lesser number of alleged Maoists undertrials compared to the available space for the inmates. It can house 629 inmates but has 546 alleged Maoist undertrials. “Please add total number of prison inmates to the alleged Maoist undertrials and you will have more than three times overcrowding in Dantewada as well,” Swami Agnivesh added.

The RTI has also revealed that out of these 1067 undertrials, 1018 are tribals. Swami Agnivesh said that in majority cases, the tribals could not appoint a lawyer or even manage to find out about the case details and that “confines them in prison for ages”. “There are several people in prison for more than five years as undertrials. Their cases are not moving at all. This is atrocious,” he added.

The RTI record shows nine tribals are languishing in Jagdalpur prison for more than five years, whereas details regarding ‘inmate’s number of years in prison’ have not been disclosed by the authorities of Dantewada and Kanker.

Jagdalpur prison authorities were more forthright in disseminating information like the number of women arrested as alleged Maoist sympathisers or the number of arrests under special security act Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). The number of women inmates in Jagdalpur is 53 and 128 undertrials are detained under UAPA, the RTI reply said. Besides, Jagdalpur prison authorities also shared that eight undertrials have not appeared in court “for the last one year”. While the Kanker authorities have disclosed that there are six women in prison custody as undertrials, other information regarding number of inmates detained under UAPA or inmate’s cumulative years in prison are not disclosed by either Kanker or Dantewada authorities.

Swami Agnivesh claimed that in the entire Maoist belt of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Orissa, thousands of tribals are languishing in prisons as undertrials. He demanded appointment of fast track courts for speedy disposal of these cases, adequate compensation for the innocents and punishment of officials who framed the tribals.

The State’s Tribal Affairs Minister Kedar Kashyap could not be reached on phone for comments.

A few years after the launch of the now-illegal anti-Maoist movement Salwa Judum, both the opposition Congress and the CPI started claiming that their members are indiscriminately arrested in south Chhattisgarh as alleged Maoists. However, some of the BJP old hands have also been put behind bars for allegedly associating with the rebels. The CPI is now planning a campaign to pressurise the government to release the political activists. A recent judgement of the Bombay High Court that says “mere membership of a banned organization will not incriminate a person unless he resorts to violence” has also acted as a shot in the arm of the activists.

House of Lords voted to Outlaw Caste discrimination in UK


Historic victory for Dalits

Arun Kumar, Bedford, UK

 

4th March, 2013 is a momentous day in the history of Dalit movement in the UK when the House of Lords voted overwhelmingly in favour of including caste discrimination in the Equality Act 2010. 256 peers from all parties voted for the amendment and 153 voted against.  If this amendment is passed in the House of Commons, it will give the same legal protection as people who face discrimination on the basis of gender, sexuality or race.  United Kingdom will be the first country in the Western Hemisphere to give legal protection to the victims of caste discrimination.

Coinciding with the debate in the Parliament, hundreds of people from various organisations representing Ravidassias, Valmikis, Buddhists, Ambedkarites and Christians in the UK marched in front of British Parliament in support of the amendment in the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill tabled by Lord Harries, the former Bishop of Oxford and Chairman of All Party Parliamentary Group for Dalits and the Labour Party Equality spokes person in the Lords, Lady Thornton.  They demanded the implementation of the findings of the National Institute for Economic and Social Research (NIESR) report published in 2010 commissioned by the Government Equalities Office to determine the extent of caste based discrimination (CBD) in the UK. NIESR found out that there was an ample evidence of CBD and recommended legal protection for the victims of caste prejudice. But the Government was not prepared to include caste in the legislation and opposed change in the law.

Introducing the amendment, Lord Harries, the bishop of Oxford said, “We know in the case of race that nothing has been more effective in reducing racial prejudice than the law. It has had a most powerful educative effect”. He further stated, “Nothing could be more significant and effective in reducing discrimination on the grounds of caste than to have a clear-cut law that discrimination in the public law would not be tolerated”.

The Government was not prepared to include caste in the legislation and opposed change in the law saying it had set up an education programme to tackle caste discrimination. But peers said this was not enough, and the law needed to be changed. The peers voted in favour of the amendment and defeated the government.

Despite the overwhelming majority in favor of this legislation, the government response was not encouraging. On behalf of the government, Baroness Stowell accepted that there was some evidence of caste discrimination but education program was an appropriate way of dealing with the incidents relating to caste. “We do not believe that introducing specific caste-based legislation is the best way to tackle the incidents of caste-related prejudice and discrimination that have been identified – many of which occur in areas not covered by discrimination law, such as in volunteering,” said a spokesman for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

For a number of years many organisations were campaigning to outlaw caste discrimination. The campaigners have done a marvellous effort to highlight the issue of caste discrimination in the UK and worked hard to lobby at various levels to get the support. They must be congratulated. Dalit Solidarity Network, UK, Anti Caste Discrimination Alliance, UK, Federation of Ambedkarite & Buddhist Organisation, UK (FABO, UK), Caste Watch, UK and Voice of Dalits, UK (VODI) are some of the organisations who spearheaded the campaign and achieved a historic success

 

Kind Regards

 

PRESS RELEASE- Letter to Ambassador of Italy to India


H.E.Mr Daniele Mancini

Ambassador of Italy to India

New Delhi

segramb.newdelhi@esteri.it

 Cc:

Dr Staffan de Mistura

Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs

Rome

ministero.affariesteri@cert.esteri.it

 On the Italian gunmen

 Your Excellency,

 I am writing this to you as an ordinary citizen working on multilateral treaties to convey  that the Italian government’s decision not to fulfill the commitment it has made through you to the highest judiciary of India and your continued ill-reading of the UN Convention on the Law of Sea (UNCLOS) represent a grave infraction of the rule of international laws and time-tested multilaterally accepted traditions. It is my fervent hope, your excellency, that your government has not returned to the creed of fascismo or the pervasive Italian mafia has not taken over the business of national governance.

 I was puzzled by your statement that the crime committed by the gunmen could be addressed as per Article 100 of the UNCLOS. I seriously doubt if you have read the treaty before making such a claim. While Article 100 commits States to cooperate in the repression of piracy on the high seas and in areas beyond national jurisdiction, Article 101 defines what is piracy and here I quote:

‘Article 101Definition of piracy

Piracy consists of any of the following acts:

(a) any illegal acts of violence or detention, or any act of depredation, committed for private ends by the crew or the

passengers of a private ship or a private aircraft, and directed:

(i) on the high seas, against another ship or aircraft, or against persons or property on board such ship or aircraft;

(ii) against a ship, aircraft, persons or property in a place outside the jurisdiction of any State;

(b) any act of voluntary participation in the operation of a ship or of an aircraft with knowledge of facts making it a pirate ship or aircraft;

(c) any act of inciting or of intentionally facilitating an act described in subparagraph (a) or (b)’.

 

In case you made the proposal after reading the Article 101, you are obviously accusing the innocent victims who were fishing in India’s Territorial Waters as being pirates, and that your excellency is a crime in itself.

 

The whole series of arguments your government has been making have been perverted, and entirely misleading about the well-meaning international laws. If the ship was not in the Territorial Waters as you have argued, then it was certainly in the Contiguous Zone. Under UNCOLS, a foreign vessel has only a right of ‘innocent passage’ through the Territorial Waters and the Contiguous Zone. And as per Article 19 explaining the meaning of innocent passage the treaty stipulates that ‘any exercise or practice with weapons of any kind’ by a foreign ship shall be considered to be ‘prejudicial to the peace, good order or security of the coastal State’ and hence shall not constitute innocent passage. And Article 27.1.a categorically states that the criminal jurisdiction of the coastal State prevails  ‘if the consequences of the crime extend to the coastal State’.  The simple and glaringly obvious fact that the coastal State jurisdiction does not apply to a crime happening entirely on board the ship, without affecting anyone outside,  has been deliberately misread by your government to argue that Indian jurisdiction does not apply in this case. That was laughable if not ridiculous. In the impossible event of this argument being validated, any country can send soldiers or terrorists to the coastal waters of Italy and shoot  from their ship at all possible targets and Italy will have to node to the jurisdiction of the flag State addressing this. Fortunately, international treaties are not framed to endanger national sovereignty in such manner, but indeed to protect it and that is what UNCLOS does too.

 

It was also interesting that you have raised the claim of protection of the gunmen under the Geneva Convention as PoW, which actually meant that their crime was an act of war. Our government should actually have proceeded along those lines.

 

Even as you are venturing to go to unfortunate extents to protect the criminal gunmen, innocent Italians in India who have been visited by misfortune have been ignored by yourself and your government. When Italian citizens Mr Bosusco Paola and Mr Claudio Colangelo were abducted in Orissa in March last year your government did virtually nothing, in comparison to the huge risks you are taking on behalf of the gunmen, to seek their release.  An elderly Italian Mr Sebastiano Roserio Contiguglia had to die in Cuttak city two months ago as he could not afford to get adequate medical care. And remember your excellency, it was the Indian National Human Rights Commission of India and the state High Court that have asked for reports on the death of this Italian, the same judicial system that you seek to dishonour. Yourself or your government was nowhere to help this hapless Italian. Perhaps the tax paying Italian public is not aware of your double standards in dealing with Italian citizens abroad.

 

We all believe that the accused gunmen should not have been allowed to leave the country, given the ridiculous manner in which you were trying to handle the issue. I for one believed that the Italian government cannot be trusted and you proved me right. Your act of refusal to return the accused to India is an act of subversion of international laws and multilateral norms upon which the community of civilized nations conduct business. I must say tell you that this behavior is not characteristic of a legitimately constituted government, and you must immediately reverse your erroneous decision and demonstrate your civility to the world.

 

Assuring you of my highest consideration to the office you hold,

Sincerely

 

S.Faizi

Environmentalist

Trivandrum

91-9497012590

biodiversity@rediffmail.com

Member: Biodiversity Convention’s Expert Group on Biodiversity and Development

Board member: CBD Alliance www.cbdalliance.org

 

PRESS RELEASE- #India – House for Every Homeless Families ?


 

PIB Press Release
           
            As per Census 2001, total houseless households in the country stood at 0.45 million.  Census of India 2011 data on houseless households has not been released as on date, therefore, estimation of houseless households as of now and its comparison with the number in 2001 cannot be made at this juncture. However ‘Technical Group on Urban Housing Shortage’ has indicated that 0.53 million Households are in homeless condition in urban areas as of 2012.  This was stated by Shri Ajay Maken, Union Minister of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation (HUPA), in the Rajya Sabha today, in a written reply to a question by Shri C. P. Narayanan.
                        The Minister further stated that Land’ and ‘Colonisation’ are State subjects, therefore it is the primary responsibility of State Governments to provide houses/shelters to all citizens. Government of India did not have any scheme for construction of shelters for homeless persons during the Eleventh Five Year Plan. However, in order to complement and supplement the initiatives of State Governments in providing housing for the urban poor, Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation has been implementing following schemes/programmes:
·         Under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) with its two components Basic Services to Urban Poor (BSUP) and Integrated Housing & Slum Development Programme (IHSDP), 1.57 million Dwelling Units have been sanctioned as on date.
·         The scheme of Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY) is at a preparatory phase where Slum Free City Planning is being undertaken.
·         Under Affordable Housing in Partnership Scheme (AHP), 11 projects of 2 States viz., Karnataka & Rajasthan have been sanctioned.
·         The Interest Subsidy Scheme for Housing the Urban Poor (ISHUP) is meant to facilitate channelization of credit for the urban poor. As on date, 13,485 beneficiaries have been covered under ISHUP.
                        Under National Urban Livelihood Mission (NULM), ‘Shelters for Urban Homeless’ has been proposed to be taken up during Twelfth Five Year Plan. However, since necessary approvals have not been obtained, no time frame for its finalization can be committed at this juncture.
                     The Minister further stated that given the magnitude of the housing shortage and budgetary constraints of both the Central and State Governments, it is clear that Public Sector efforts will not alone suffice in fulfilling the housing demand. The exact time span to ensure a house to every family in the country cannot be estimated, the Minister added.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gujarat Cops don’t cooperate with women complainants: Activist


The Times of India, 15 March 2013

VADODARA: Days within the Supreme Court rapped the Punjab and Bihar police for their excesses on women, a city-based NGO has accused them of being insensitive towards cases of sexual harassment and domestic violence. Activist Trupti Shah, who runs non-governmental organization for women’s rights, said the city police don’t cooperate with women complainants and instead make them do rounds of the police station.

She cited a recent case of a working woman, who wanted to file FIR against her company’s chief operating officer (COO) for sexual harassment. “When she approached Chhani police in October last year, they asked her to strike a compromise with the company. They told her that it was in her own interests,” Shah told TOI.

“The victim had agreed to compromise if the COO tendered a written apology, but when it didn’t happen, she approached the cops. The police instead told her that registering such complaint would put blot on her name. The then police inspector even shouted at me and accused me of instigating the girl,” Shah said and added that while her complaint was taken in January this year, the police refused to register it as per the details provided by her.

Shah claimed that she got 10 cases of domestic violence and two cases of sexual harassment in last eight months. “In six cases of domestic violence, no FIR was registered as the police insisted the women strike a compromise,” Shah said.

Shah has written to city police commissioner, state DGP, National Commission for Women and Gujarat State Commission for Women informing them about the problems faced by women complainants.

Press Release- Gujarat Stop the bulldozer of progress, now!


 

Need to talk not only of gram swaraj, but also of nagar swaraj and Lok swaraj, today!

Ahmedabad, March 14: The Mumbai- Delhi DMIC Virodhi Sangharsh Yatra reached Gujarat Vidyapith, Ahmedabad, after conversing with farmers in Kheda today. A discussion was held on the topic “DMIC: progress or destruction?” at Ahimsa Mandap in the afternoon, and veteran Gandhian Chunni Vaidya, Ila Bahan Pathak, Rajni Dave, Sagar Rabari, Indu Bhai, Raju Purohit, Vidyut Bhai, Anand Mazgaonkar, Swati Desai and other social activists participated in it along with the Mithivirdi Parmanu Virodhi Sangharsh Samiti and farmers currently fighting against the DMIC’s Palanpur hub.

Addressing the gathering, Chunni Bhai said that there is rampant  destruction in the name of developmet  in the county today, and that the time has come for the people to rightfully demand from the government that this “bulldozer” of development be stopped. He said that it is society that has the right to the country’s resources, not the government or corporations. He called for everyone present to stand together and say, “Village land belongs to the village, not to the government!”

Vasuram Bhai, associated with the Mithivirdi agitation, said, “we refuse to believe the false claims of the government, it is a statement of borne out of conviction that the farmers and labourers together will not  allow anyone to trespass upon their land”.

Talking about the DMIC in Gujarat, Rajendra Purohit stated that the situation in the state, already suffering from misuse of resources for industrial development, will worsen in coming times. Anand Mazgaonkar said that Gujarat is witnessing a fight over the sale of everything from séeds to land, and the false propaganda of zero resistance is being carried out with the help of money power and political power aimed at ensuring open grab and use of natural resources. Agitations are on in Umargaon, Bhavnagar, Mahua, Dahej, Sarbhan, Mithivirdi and Kachch, even as the politically powerful continue their false propaganda for the sake of their political ambitions.

NAPM’s Madhuresh Kumar rested his case saying, “the ruling class has always been attracted towards the big projects and big dreams which are shown to the common man, but development with justice and equity is never discussed. DMIC is yet another fantasy of the megalomaniac ruling class, which is against the rights of the people, and the opposition of which is in the better interests of all society. In the name of progress and industrial development, lakhs of hectares of land, forests and mineral resources have been acquired, but have these ever been used righteously? No. Then why are requisitions being considered? The need of the hour is to address the problems and questions raised due to all the developmental processes till date, for the creation of a peaceful society. Today, we need to talk of not only gram swaraj but of nagar swaraj and Lok swaraj, or else our future generations will never forgive us”.

The meeting came to a close with a discussion about the establishment of a Gram Swaraj Samiti, and the farmers of Palanpur and Mithivirdi announced that they would be participating in the Kisaan Khet Mazdoor Mahapanchayat to be held at Jantar Mantar, Delhi on 18th March. The Yatra will be visiting Pithampur Industrial Area in Indore tomorrow.

Lingraj Azad, Prasad Bagve, Suhaas Kolhekar, Utpal VB, Milind Champanerkar, Krishnakant, Ateek Ahmed, Nasreen Bi, Anwari, Mukesh, Yuvraj Bhatkal, Viabhav Joshi, Mansaram.

Contact: 9818905316

 

 

PRESS RELEASE- Dalit emancipation is not possible without REVOLUTION- ( English/Hindi/punjabi)


Chandigarh, 14 March. Known writer and intellectual Dr. Anand Teltumbde said here today that all experiments dalit emancipation by Dr. Ambedkar ended in a ‘grand failure’ and for elimination of caste, we have go beyond their movements.

While speaking at Fourth Arvind Memorial Seminar here in Bhakna Bhavan, a national level five-day seminar on the topic of ‘Caste Question and Marxism‘, Dr. Teltumbde said that only 10% of the dalits have benefitted so far from the policy of Reservation. The reason for this is that Dr. Ambedkar did not correctly constituted the policy of reservation. He said that dalit emancipation is not possible without revolution and revolution is not possible without the widest participation of Dalits.

Dr. Teltumbde said that communists of India applied Marxism in a dogmatic way and so they neither understood the caste problem correctly nor they were able to draw a correct strategy for struggle against it. While agreeing with many points in the keynote paper presented in the seminar, he said that by rejecting Ambedkar, Phule or Periyar the social revolution can’t move ahead.

He said that Ambedkar did not make a thorough study of Marxism, but he had a deep attraction for it. We have to think to bring together Marx and Ambedkarite movements. For this it is important that Communists should stand by dalits in every instance of atrocities over dalits.

Editor of ‘Ahwan’ magazine Abhinav presented a detailed criticism of the philosophical source of Ambedkar, an American philosopher John Devy and said that he did not provide any complete way-out for the emancipation of dalits. He did not go beyond getting some concessions from state in the form of ‘Affirmative action’ and welfare steps. The same thing we find in the ideology of Ambedkar. Expressing disagreement with many points raised by Dr. Teltumbde, Abhinav said that the reasons for the failure of all experiments of Dr. Ambedkar have to looked for in his philosophical outlook. While brushing aside the theory of social revolution he continued only to experiment and even there he lacked rationality.

Abhinav said that while acknowledging the contribution of Dr. Ambedkar in bringing to forefront the dalit identity and creating consciousness among them, but along with this we have to present the criticism of political-economical-philosophical views of Dr. Ambedkar.

Mr. Lalto, professor at IIT Hyderabad and a known writer said that Marxism is not a static philosophy, but it gets enriched with many new ideas continuously. Marxists should also use other methods of epistemology and should not rely solely upon a single method. Prof. Sewa Singh said that Ambedkar’s contribution should be evaluated in the light of a correct historical perspective. Alongwith this, Ambedkar’s views about muslims should also be reviewed.

Sukhwinder, editor of Punjabi magazine ‘Pratibadh’ sharply criticized the comments of Dr. Teltumbde on the communists of India and said that communists of India did not even had the program for Indian revolution, so in such circumstances it should not be expected a correct line on caste question from them. But in every part of the country communists fought in front ranks for the rights of oppressed and exploited and gave uncountable sacrifices.

Discussion is still in progress on the two other papers presented in seminar. From ‘Sanhati’, Asit Das presented his write up on “Caste question and Marxism” and a paper by Arjun Prasad Singh from PDFI, Delhi was read out by Tapish Mandola because of his inability to attend the seminar.

Senior leader of Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) Ninu Chapagai, Kashmir Singh from Sirsa, Jitendra Bharti from Dehradun, Rohit Rajora & Surya Kumar Yadav from Lucknow, Dr. Amrit from Ludhiana, Rajesh Kumar from Varanasi also spoke on the keynote paper of the seminar.

The session was presided over by president of Nepal Rashtrya Dalit Mukti Morcha Tilak Parihar, convener of Gyan Prasar Smaj Master Harish and Dr. Amritpal. Stage was conducted by Satyam.

 

Press release_14.3.13 Hindi

Press release_14.3.13 Punjabi

Irom Sharmila Re-Arrested, Continues Her Fast Unto Death Demanding Repeal Of #AFSPA #Vaw


 

Irom Sharmila was released on Tuesday by the Chief Judicial Magistrate Court in Imphal East after completing one year imprisonment. She refused to give up her fast and was re-arrested by the Porompat police
Shazia Nigar

March 14, 2013

‘I will not adopt a re-conciliatory position. Nothing will change my stand and I will continue to fast until my demand is fulfilled,’ said Irom Sharmila. Photo: Ankit Agarwal

Iron LadyIrom Sharmila Chanu has been arrested once again on charges of attempted suicide. She has been on fast unto death for twelve years demanding repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Manipur. The maximum punishment the charge is imprisonment up to one year.

Babloo Loitongbam, Human Right activist and an associate of Irom Sharmila said, “She was picked up from the site of protest at the Save Sharmila office in Imphal.”

Sharmila had been released on Tuesday by the Chief Judicial Magistrate Court in Imphal East after completing one year imprisonment. She refused to give up her fast and was re-arrested by the Porompat police. Before being produced to court, Sharmila was remanded to judicial custody until 26 March. She is currently in the security ward at the Jawaharlal Nehru Hospital in Imphal.

Sharmila’s brother, Irom Singhajit said that a medical team showed up at the site of protest demanding a medical check-up that she denied. Police picked her up later at six in the evening. Singhajit said, “I meet her every fifteen days when she is produced in court. The family requires a special permission to see her. It takes one month for a permission to be granted.”

Commenting on her fast unto death in a recent interview with TEHELKA, Sharmila said, “Although it’s been over 12 years, I will not adopt a re-conciliatory position. Nothing will change my stand and I will continue to fast until my demand is fulfilled. Nothing will shake my resistance.”

Irom Sharmila has been fasting since November 2000 when ten civilians were killed in an alleged encounter by the Assam Rifles near Imphal airport. AFSPA was imposed in Manipur in 1980.

 

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